Recycling in California: School Challenge Encourages Recycling for Kids

Keep California Beautiful

It’s no secret Californians love to recycle—for example, in 2009, we recycled 17.2 billion empty beverage containers, more than 30 million waste tires and 200 million pounds of used electronics. However, there’s still room for improvement.

Recycling in California Starts at School

With more than 9,950 public schools across California, additional students in private schools, and all the teachers, staff and administration employed by schools, it is safe to say that one out of six Californians is at school each day! With so many people, it’s inevitable that they will generate a large amount of solid waste, and there’s a huge opportunity to introduce our kids to good conservation and recycling habits early on that will carry on with them into adulthood.

That is why Keep California Beautiful has launched the California Schools Recycling Challenge, a friendly competition for K-12 school recycling programs to help promote waste reduction activities in schools across the state.

How the Keep California Beautiful Recycling Challenge Works

Participating schools will report recycling and trash data to the California Schools Recycling Challenge. Based on this data, schools will then be ranked in multiple categories: who collects the largest amount of recyclables per capita, who collects largest amount of total recyclables and who has the highest recycling rate.

Participating schools and districts will be able to track their progress on the California Recycling Challenge Web site and winners are announced December 2010. Awards totaling $5,000 will be distributed to the winning schools and districts to support their recycling initiatives.

The Recycling Challenge provides a tool for school district recycling coordinators, teachers, student green teams and waste management professionals to engage their school community in recycling and waste reduction in a fun and friendly way. Students love a competition, and challenging the classroom next door or joining forces to beat the cross district rival can help drive their desire to effect change and can help instill lifelong habits and attitudes towards environmental sustainability.

The Importance of Recycling for Kids

Schools can help communities reduce their waste, while saving money and teaching kids valuable lessons. Whether a school has an extensive waste reduction program or is just getting basic recycling collections off the ground, experience has shown that all schools have potential to further reduce the amount of resources they consume and dispose of. Many school districts have been successful in improving their economic and environmental performance through the implementation of waste reduction initiatives!

Keep California Beautiful is proud to be a part of this program, and we hope that the California Schools Recycling Challenge’s success will spur longer term programs in the future. This program is funded through a grant from national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful (KAB), which is supporting and examining a number of recycling education and awareness pilot programs across the country that could become models for nationwide campaigns. Promotional partners include CalRecycle, Collaborative for High Performance Schools, California Resource Recovery Association, Green Technology and Green Technology Smart Media.

For more information on what Keep California Beautiful is working on, visit